Illuminating Civil War history from an expert in the field.




Cooper (History/Louisiana State Univ.; Jefferson Davis and the Civil War Era, 2008, etc.) shares his encyclopedic knowledge of the American South and the Civil War as he exposes the players who drew the country into war.

President James Buchanan’s attempts to diffuse the tensions only postponed a crisis. After South Carolina’s secession, he concluded a gentlemen’s agreement with Gov. Francis Pickens not to reinforce Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor as long as there was no interference. Though historians often claim that slavery was not the true cause of the war, the Southern states demanded their right to reclaim escaped slaves and the rights of the new territories to establish themselves as slave or free. Abraham Lincoln was adamantly against extending the right of slavery in the territories, a true deal breaker for the South. The Republican Party, rejoicing upon gaining the White House in November 1860, was determined to control the South, and they were unwilling to compromise, thwarting every attempt in Congress and using debate and delay methods that are all too familiar today. The Democratic Congress stalwartly attempted to find resolution, with committees in both houses, but again the Republicans used all the instruments of democracy to frustrate success. There were countless attempts to save the Union, including the Crittenden Compromise, the tireless work of William Seward, and the proposal of an amendment to guarantee slavery as it existed. Each had a possibility of success but suffered reverses, delays and impenetrable opposition. Drawing on his wide knowledge of the time period, Cooper clearly enumerates the many ways the Civil War could have been avoided and how many people were clueless as to the real threat, especially Lincoln.

Illuminating Civil War history from an expert in the field.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4000-4200-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2012

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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